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Hackers Hit Apple Supplier Foxconn 193

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-it-down dept.
wiredmikey writes "Protests against Apple and Foxconn due to furor over reports about working conditions have gone digital. A group known as SwaggSec has successfully hacked computers at Foxconn, and posted the stolen data to The Pirate Bay website. News of the hack comes as protesters paid a visit today to Apple stores around the world to deliver petitions demanding the improvement of working conditions at factories run by Apple suppliers in China and other countries. In response to the attack, Foxconn reportedly took down a website that explains the services it offers to some of its partners, including Apple, Cisco and Acer."
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Hackers Hit Apple Supplier Foxconn

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  • Apple and Foxconn (Score:5, Informative)

    by bonch (38532) * on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:49PM (#38989957)

    I made this point in the last article [slashdot.org]: Foxconn is the world's largest electronic producer and is outsourced by Dell, HP, Microsoft, Google, Sony, Nintendo and more. Not only is it completely ineffective to hand a signed petitions to some Apple store manager in an attempt to influence the working conditions of an internationally traded public company in China, it also gives a pass to every other computer company who uses Foxconn. Remember that the last article said that Apple was the best about being proactive about labor conditions...so where are the protests against the companies that aren't? Where are the demonstrations against the Chinese government? It's not like Tim Cook can make a phone call and change the entire Chinese business model. There are all kinds of factors at play between the Taiwanese management of Foxconn and the Chinese labor it employs that foreign companies have no power to change.

    On a related note, the NY Times published an interesting article on why the U.S. lost out on iPhone work [nytimes.com]. For most big electronics companies, it's simply not economically viable to manufacture here in the States.

    • by alvinrod (889928) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:59PM (#38990029)
      Apple gets singled out a lot now, not because there's some new Apple bashing trend, but merely because they're now the largest and one of the most influential tech company on the planet. If this story were written in the 90's, the headline would be changed to work in Microsoft somehow. It's mostly just an attention grabbing mechanism as Foxconn alone doesn't have that kind of name recognition, but pretty much everyone is aware of Apple. Also, even if people despise the company, they might be interested in an article that makes it seems as though Apple's in trouble.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Apple has billions of dollars. Why don't they throw a few bucks at their employees/contractors? Are they cheap? Are they mean?

        Who would buy stuff from a cheap, mean company?

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          More importantly if Apple really believe in their products why aren't they making them themselves. Why are they relying upon 'disposable' manufacturing services, does Apple believe it's products are crappy and the need to be able to abandon them at the drop of a hat if the iFad collapses.

          Let's see some commitment from Apple and manufacture of their devices where they are bought not where they can not be afforded as they represent around a year's salary at that location.

          • by bryan1945 (301828)

            Because they are in the business to make money, not to push some political/social policy.

            • by Bert64 (520050)

              And therein lies the problem with society today... Businesses are selfish and short sighted.
              If every business works hard to improve efficiency, cut back on expensive staff and replace them with robots, outsource labour intensive activities to cheaper countries etc...
              The end result, is huge unemployment in the home country of that business, so then who buys your products? Those people in the country you outsource cheap labour to can't afford to either.
              Short term profit gains, leading to long term economic co

          • by toriver (11308)

            Apple did manufacture their machines back home in America until a) the demand started to exceed capacity and capacity could not be ramped up due to regulations, labor shortages etc. and b) the Mac prices became twice those of PCs because all the competing PC manufacturers had moved manufacturing to Asia.

            To move manufacturing from low-cost countries to the high-cost market countries themselves is a losing proposition.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, I, for one don't buy anything which comes from Foxconn. No Dell, no HP, no Microsoft, no Nintendo, etc. Before buying something I check where and by who is made.

      • Well, I, for one don't buy anything which comes from Foxconn. No Dell, no HP, no Microsoft, no Nintendo, etc. Before buying something I check where and by who is made.

        Foxconn is also one of the (if not the) largest maker of connectors - good look making your PC Foxconn free.

    • Re:Apple and Foxconn (Score:5, Informative)

      by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:03PM (#38990065)

      "Though he [Labour activist Li Qiang [laptopmag.com]] believes that Apple has done a better job of inspecting its factories than others, Li maintains that the public is right to put more pressure on Tim Cook’s company than its competitors who have the same problems. Because Apple makes the most profit, he reasons, it also bears the most responsibility for fixing a broken system."

      You may do a better job than other, but you've got deeper pockets so prepare to be punished.

      "“Foxconn is not good,” Li told the New York Times. ”But if we compare all industries, electronics, textile, toys, Foxconn is one of the best.”"

      They're not even attacking the right supplier, just the one that's connected with the most high profile name so they can get their mug in the papers.

      • by LordNimon (85072)

        Because Apple makes the most profit, he reasons, it also bears the most responsibility for fixing a broken system.

        Some people will call me a liberal, but I believe this wholeheartedly. Look at my signature. The people who are most capable of fixing a problem ("hold high places") must take the initiative to fix it. Is this the same thing as punishing success? I like to think that being able to help the less fortunate is a reward of success.

        • Those with the broadest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden, I agree with that. However, when do you cross the line and become a neo-colonist company telling people how they should organize their country ? Secondly Apple are doing more as indicated in the article, so how much is enough ? The broadest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden but you can't become Atlas and start carrying the burden of the world.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:11PM (#38990139)

      it's simply not economically viable to manufacture here in the States.

      As long as we continue to allow imports of materials covered in the blood of the workers who produced it, then yes, it will remain "not economically viable". Should we suddenly have an outburst of compassion and decide to ban such imports, I imagine it will magically become economical again to manufacture here. Also.. you're only getting about a 10% discount when you buy products produced by sweatshop as opposed to regulated and safe working conditions.

      And let's be clear: The product you're buying isn't essential to your livelihood. It is a status symbol and a material comfort. Is that 10% really worth it? There are some standards that we should not compromise on: We should not allow business with companies or countries that have to place nets on and around their buildings to catch people committing suicide because of it's poor working conditions.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        it's simply not economically viable to manufacture here in the States.

        As long as we continue to allow imports of materials covered in the blood of the workers who produced it, then yes, it will remain "not economically viable". Should we suddenly have an outburst of compassion and decide to ban such imports, I imagine it will magically become economical again to manufacture here. Also.. you're only getting about a 10% discount when you buy products produced by sweatshop as opposed to regulated and safe working conditions.

        And let's be clear: The product you're buying isn't essential to your livelihood. It is a status symbol and a material comfort. Is that 10% really worth it? There are some standards that we should not compromise on: We should not allow business with companies or countries that have to place nets on and around their buildings to catch people committing suicide because of it's poor working conditions.

        Thats not for Apple to decide. A company will (AND SHOULD!!!) always find the most cost-effective (yet legal) way to meet an end (short of compromising design or manufacturing goals). Thats the responsibility the company has to its shareholders.

        If Apple all-of-a-sudden decided to "be ethical" and manufacture in the good ol' US of A, then arguably, that 10% cost makes them less competitive than their rivals. Go to any business school instructor/professor and ask him/her to explain to you "competitive advanta

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by sethstorm (512897)

          Thats not for Apple to decide. A company will (AND SHOULD!!!) always find the most cost-effective (yet legal) way to meet an end (short of compromising design or manufacturing goals). Thats the responsibility the company has to its shareholders.

          Pure and textbook sociopathy.

        • you assume that people buy iPhones and iPads based on cost. That isn't true, if cost was the deciding factor then logically people would buy an android phone or tablet, since they effectively do the same thing and are cheaper.

          If Apple manufactured in the USA you might find sales increase due to Americans having a sense of national pride supporting American jobs.
          McDonalds in the UK and Ireland advertise that they only use British and Irish beef in their burgers, Supermarkets similarly promote locally produc

      • by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:25PM (#38990784) Homepage

        Is that 10% really worth it?

        Those Foxconn employees chose to work there because, to them, it's much better than working in the alternative business, namely, very dirty and very poor 4th world level farming. If big companies all around started refusing to work with Foxconn, it'd shrink, laying all that people off, back to the farms, to die of diseases they currently don't. So, even if the current situation is currently "bad" (from our perspective), the alternative is worse.

        There's no magic trick. The only real solution for poor working conditions is to increase demand for labor more than the net growth of the workforce. Higher demand coupled with lower offer equals higher prices (in this case, higher wages). Once the demand over there is so high that companies start competing among themselves for workers, so that workers can start choosing were to work, a choice which usually includes considerations on working conditions, these companies will all find themselves compelled to improve working conditions, or start losing their best workers, then the average ones, and finally even the bad ones. Not being dumb, they'll follow the improvement path simply because there'll be no alternative.

        All of which means, counter-intuitively as it seems, that people should actually do the opposite of what you suggested.

        • by sethstorm (512897) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:40PM (#38990903) Homepage

          Those Foxconn employees chose to work there because, to them, it's much better than working in the alternative business, namely, very dirty and very poor 4th world level farming. If big companies all around started refusing to work with Foxconn, it'd shrink, laying all that people off, back to the farms, to die of diseases they currently don't. So, even if the current situation is currently "bad" (from our perspective), the alternative is worse.

          That's like saying that your slavemaster beats you less than someone else's. You're still a slave, you're still getting beaten, and the only difference is that you get shiny golden shackles, get beaten with precision instruments, or get executed in some van if you think about raising freedom.

          The better idea is to start with good conditions in the first place. Then make sure those good conditions become a common practice. That's how you skip the evils of slavery. What China is figuring out is how to keep the slavery going so that your situation never happens; so far, they've been successful at making sure economic development doesn't result in freedoms for those that are not businesses. The totalitarian model that China gives freedom for businesses, but none for workers - for giving workers the requisite freedom would threaten business efficiency.

          • by toriver (11308)

            Here's how USA gets to decide China's labor politics: Invade and occupy the country, installing some puppet government that... oh wait, U.S. has tried that before and in those countries the conditions for people did not improve one bit...

        • by sgt scrub (869860)

          A china based company will open its doors paying higher wages and forcing fewer hours and charge 10% more. Force them to compete with each other without using/abusing their employees. If customers don't insist the people they are dealing with are fairly with their employees then nothing will change.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Those Foxconn employees chose to work there because, to them, it's much better than working in the alternative business, namely, very dirty and very poor 4th world level farming. If big companies all around started refusing to work with Foxconn, it'd shrink, laying all that people off, back to the farms, to die of diseases they currently don't.

          Don't be an idiot. If big companies all over the world refused to do business with companies which treat employees like slaves (never mind that Foxconn treats their slaves slightly better than do the other slavemasters, they still exist in conditions which we would consider slavery here) then all of those companies would treat their workers better, the cost of goods would increase, and life would go on for everyone. It's true that slightly less needless crap would be produced, but that stuff is harmful to a

      • by Viceice (462967)

        Don't ban imports, simply impose import duties on all manufactured items until it BECOMES competitive to build it in America. Either jobs return to America, or suddenly there is enough money to seriously fix the national debt. It's win win.

        And to the people who say that it will ruin the economy, quite the opposite. The economy DOES NOT exist on Wall St, it exists when everyday people exchange the goods or service they produce for those of others. More people producing and then consuming in America simply ma

    • right... that article was already discussed on slashdot. the gist of it was that the workers are treated like animals. regardless, wages are steadily rising in China and foxconn is now moving some plants over to Brazil where wages are lower.

      • by sgt scrub (869860)

        Could you provide a link please. Last I looked, 2010, minimum wage in Brazil was triple that of China. I like to keep up to date.

    • Not only is it completely ineffective to hand a signed petitions to some Apple store manager in an attempt to influence the working conditions of an internationally traded public company in China, it also gives a pass to every other computer company who uses Foxconn.

      You pick the biggest, baddest of the bunch and sucker punch him. Is it sporting? No. Does it get results? Maybe, maybe not. But it sure feels good.

      People who love Apple products are clearly willing to pay a premium. Apple's labor costs are moot in every respect except their own over-stuffed bank accounts. Apple doesn't yet believe that the number of additional units they might sell by foreswearing cheap labor will make up for the few extra dollars they will spend. Picking on them (even unfairly -- o

      • Governments set labor and trade policies. Public companies are obligated (by law) to maximize profit. Boycotts about this kind of thing never work--if they did then Nike wouldn't sell so many shoes.

        Go vote for some better laws. Blaming Apple misses the point, misses the root of the problem, and above all showcases what an idiot you are.

        • Public companies are obligated (by law) to maximize profit.

          A combination of legal and logical responsibilities motivates public companies to maximize shareholder value. "Shareholder value" is not rigidly synonymous with "profit". Even if it was, if Apple loses sufficient sales due to poor publicity, they must change their ways or be in violation of your "law".

    • by Jake73 (306340) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:21PM (#38990237) Homepage

      Not only is it completely ineffective to hand a signed petitions to some Apple store manager in an attempt to influence the working conditions of an internationally traded public company in China...

      Not so. Excuse me, but these are precisely the market forces that are supposed to insight change in "pure capitalism". Pure capitalism and our American brand of government / industry cooperation are essentially bottom-up enterprises where change usually comes from the accumulation of lots of insignificant voices.

      I'm curious what alternative you would suggest would insight change? Three chain-wearing ghosts visiting Tim Cook overnight convincing him to change his businesses practices and relationships?

      • Using incite rather than insight could work ;P

        Seriously though, capitalism was never predicated around petitions. If you want "pure capitalism" to work, then the response is to not buy Apple products. A petition may be a useful adjunct, so Apple knows why they're being boycotted, but a petition without accompanying action is meaningless.

        Secondly, by focussing on Apple you're giving a free-pass to all the other tech companies who are using the exact same supplier. If you boycott Apple, just to be some other

        • A petition may be a useful adjunct, so Apple knows why they're being boycotted, but a petition without accompanying action is meaningless.

          You don't understand what a petition is for.

          A petition is a way of making customers aware that they should refuse to buy from Apple. One stands around a table for hours and asks each potential customer to sign the petition. If they do, they're probably going to think twice about entering the store or buying something. If they don't sign and argue, the activity aro

          • the vector to change runs through petitioning the governments (US or China) to enact legislation. Apple isn't breaking any laws and they aren't [arguably] doing anything unethical--which is why most people don't care.

            Most people on Slashdot didn't care about "worker conditions" when Dell was the biggest computer company in the world using third world labor--but now they care because they hate Apple because Apple won't let them compile the Linux kernel or run SETI on an iPhone. Just like most people on Slash

        • Seriously though, capitalism was never predicated around petitions. If you want "pure capitalism" to work, then the response is to not buy Apple products. A petition may be a useful adjunct, so Apple knows why they're being boycotted, but a petition without accompanying action is meaningless.

          So what would be the result if nobody bought any Apple product anymore? There were reports that over 300 workers threatened suicide at the Apple factory quite recently. Actually, that was workers who were in fear of losing their jobs because Microsoft was reducing XBox production, but the headlines reported about suicide threats at the "Apple factory". So you many people would lose their jobs if Apple stops building iPhones? How many would kill themselves?

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Seriously though, capitalism was never predicated around petitions. If you want "pure capitalism" to work, then the response is to not buy Apple products.

          If *I* don't buy Apple products, nothing has changed, because I don't buy Apple products anyway, so no, that is a stupid response and you are a stupid person for making it.

          petition may be a useful adjunct, so Apple knows why they're being boycotted, but a petition without accompanying action is meaningless.

          I bet you're one of those people who don't think that speaking is an action, or sharing information. Unfortunately, that is stupid. The truth is that by disseminating a petition more people are made aware of Apple's evil, which potentially causes people who would have purchased Apple products not to do so. Therefore the petition is infini

          • Try without littering it with personal insults next time, and maybe you'll be able to put together something worth the effort of reading.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Try without littering it with personal insults next time, and maybe you'll be able to put together something worth the effort of reading

              That's OK, no matter how many insults I put in my comment it won't be as uselessly wrong as yours.

        • by Jake73 (306340)

          Using incite rather than insight could work ;P

          Argh. Hate it when I do that in posts. I also didn't use the possessive form for "business's". Double-argh.

          Seriously though, capitalism was never predicated around petitions. If you want "pure capitalism" to work, then the response is to not buy Apple products. ...

          Secondly, by focussing on Apple you're giving a free-pass to all the other tech companies who are using the exact same supplier. If you boycott Apple, just to be some other products produced by the exact same factory, you're applying absolutely zero pressure to that factory.

          I mostly agree. But the petition is a form of action. It gathers support for the concept and puts Apple on notice. Some folks will choose to boycott others won't. But it sends a message to management, forces consideration and maybe a response, and just plain gets the word out to other customers.

          Sure, Foxconn is enormous and has other customers. But that doesn't mean Apple doesn't have a tremend

    • by KhabaLox (1906148)

      Where are the demonstrations against the Chinese government?

      There were never any demonstrations, and the demonstrators are in jail.

    • Bullshit. Apple is a large, high-profile target. It makes perfect sense to go after them. Will Dell customers care? Nintendo? No. About the only tech consumers that are going to give a shit about this sort of thing are naive yuppies that can actually afford to pay the extra cost of having something manufactured by people making the same wage their teenage kids make at the local McDonalds.

      I actually disagree with the point of the protests. As shitty as the jobs are to us they are great for someone that's fac
    • by sgt scrub (869860)

      It is more practical to target them one at a time. Targeting the largest consumer of Foxconn's products first makes it more likely that people will have an effect. If Apple hears people and uses their massive nest egg to do the right thing, that will be a big chunk out of Foxxconn's wallet. Also, when one company sees people successfully beat up a company and know they might be next, they tend to start doing the right thing more quickly.

    • by izomiac (815208)

      For most big electronics companies, it's simply not economically viable to manufacture here in the States.

      Part of the reason people are going after Apple is because Apple isn't one of them. Their profit margins could easily support the somewhat higher manufacturing costs. Plus, Apple publicly praised the factory for their slave-like working conditions that facilitate rapid design changes at the CEO's whim.

      Remember that the last article said that Apple was the best about being proactive about labor conditions...so where are the protests against the companies that aren't?

      Not being the worst doesn't make you immune to criticism. Also, none of the other manufacturers have as much name recognition or as much influence over Foxconn. The former is necessary to garner enough sup

      • by toriver (11308)

        No, because labor costs is just one variable in the equation. Labor supply, for instance, is another. China has over a billion people, including millions that are perfectly willing to leave their homes for a year or two of living in dorms while earning 20% more than the average industrial worker in China. Where in the U.S. are you supposed to find that kind of work force? Should ex-carmakers retrain to become phone assembly line workers?

        Apple did try to manufacture in America back in the day. The result was

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      On a related note, the NY Times published an interesting article on why the U.S. lost out on iPhone work. For most big electronics companies, it's simply not economically viable to manufacture here in the States.

      I contend otherwise. Your point is 100% correct if every Chinese job there translated to an American job here. But it doesn't.

      You see, the average American in a manufacturing job is much more efficient than their Chinese counterpart. I'd contend easily 10-to-1 or more.

      The reason? The average America

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Yes, they outsource to everybody, but Apple is the biggest by far. If Dell told the Fox Con to clean up their act, Dell would be laughed out of the building. If Apple told Fox Con to clean up their act and added an "or else" things would change.

      Apple's being singled out because besides Fox Con, they're the only ones with power to do anything about it.

      I'm almost as amused by Foxconn's name as I am the name of a local construction company, Construx. I see thier trucks with "Construx" on them and laugh -- "Con

  • Moving Anyways (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:02PM (#38990061)

    Apple said a while ago they are moving production to Brazil. The hackers must not read the news.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      They aren't moving, they are simply putting factories in Brazil to avoid the high tariffs that come from a nation that protects its labor force.

  • by thestudio_bob (894258) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:09PM (#38990125)

    How many protestors?

    Oh yeah, only 12, and only at the Grand Central Terminal. Not sure about where else in the world this "protest" was going on, but would love to hear some stats on the crowds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:13PM (#38990171)

    They hit Foxconn. Apple has no place in this headline or story.

    FYI Foxconn is a massive company that supplies:

    Acer Inc. (Taiwan)[27]
    Amazon.com (United States)[28]
    Apple Inc. (United States)[29]
    ASRock (Taiwan)[citation needed]
    Asus (Taiwan)[citation needed]
    Barnes & Noble (United States)[citation needed]
    Cisco (United States)[30]
    Dell (United States)[31]
    EVGA Corporation (United States)
    Hewlett-Packard (United States)[32]
    Intel (United States)[33]
    IBM (United States)[citation needed]
    Lenovo (China)[citation needed]
    Microsoft (United States)[34]
    MSI (Taiwan)[citation needed]
    Motorola (United States)[31]
    Netgear (United States)[citation needed]
    Nintendo (Japan)[35]
    Nokia (Finland)[29]
    Panasonic (Japan)[citation needed]
    Samsung (South Korea)[36]
    Sharp (Japan)[citation needed]
    Sony (Japan)[37]
    Sony Ericsson (Japan/Sweden)[38]
    Vizio (USA)

    Complaining to Apple (or any other company on that list), which are all corporations that are basically legally obligated to seek maximum profit, about Foxconn's labor policies, which are fully in compliance with China's labor regulations, is an absolute waste of time. Governments control labor conditions through labor laws and regulations. Apple does not. You would think this is obvious, but I suppose I underestimate the power of "Apple" in headlines drawing pageviews and ad revenue.

    • No other company makes such obscene profits from this trade with Foxconn, so it is natural for people to hold them most accountable.

  • 9to5mac.com says [9to5mac.com]: "We were able to verify these logins worked on more than one Foxconn server"

    So, did they "verify" this by logging in with these stolen accounts? Apparently so. I personally don't care, but I have to think they've opened themselves up to some legal unpleasantness...

    If, for example, someone handed me a piece of paper with various logins and passwords to employee accounts at $BIG_COMPANY, I don't think it would be legal to login to those accounts. Just knowing someone's password doesn't me

  • by toolo (142169) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:59PM (#38990577) Homepage

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike_Sweatshops [wikipedia.org]

    Not sure why tech gets a free pass here.

    • by pankkake (877909)

      And Nike, like Apple, definitely has enough sales margin to treat their workers better.

      But then there's the other reason Apple is targeted: page views.

  • OK, they got a bunch of Foxconn passwords? What was the point? I could see if Foxconn was a computer security company; then you'd be making ballmers out of them. I could see if you found some sort of dirt on them by hacking in, but pretty much all the dirty stuff they do is well known. So you're just proving their security isn't great?

  • by Windows Breaker G4 (939734) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:40PM (#38991333) Homepage Journal

    That headline should read Hackers Hit Everyone's Supplier, Foxconn.

    I wonder what % of their business even comes from Apple? I am not saying Apple shouldn't be pushing to make things better they should. But, Apple is hardly the only person that uses Foxconn, the way you see this stuff reported you would swear Foxconn only works for Apple

  • Every time one of these stories come up, people ask why the products aren't made in the US. A discussion then gets bogged down in staffing and labour cost issues. But these are just one part of the cost of running a factory.

    Because most of the USA and Europe have strict laws about manufacturing conditions (circulation, legislation about working in areas with harmful vapours, waste disposal, etc.) before you put a single staff member on the factory floor, your costs in these regions are MUCH higher.

    If you ca

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